Disease caused by the liver ﬂuke, Fasciola hepatica. This is found in sheep, cattle and other herbivorous animals, in which it is the cause of the condition known as liver rot. It measures about 35 × 13 mm, and is transmitted to humans from the infected animals by snails. In Britain it is the most common disease found in animal slaughterhouses. The danger to humans is in eating vegetables – particularly wild watercress – that have been infected by snails; there have been several outbreaks of fascioliasis in Britain due to eating contaminated wild watercress, and much larger outbreaks from the same cause have been reported in France. The disease is characterised by fever, dyspepsia (indigestion), heavy sweating, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, URTICARIA, and a troublesome cough. In the more serious cases there may be severe damage to the LIVER, with or without JAUNDICE. The diagnosis is clinched by the ﬁnding of the eggs of the ﬂuke in the stools. The two drugs used in treatment are bithionol and chloroquine. Even though many cases are quite mild and recover spontaneously, prevention is particularly important. This consists primarily of never eating wild watercress, as this is the main cause of infestation. Lettuces have also been found to be infested.
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